Aug 262004
Authors: Amy Resseguie

The beginning of every semester is often characterized by one

image – long lines.

Lines to buy textbooks, lines to get a bus pass and lines to beg

a professor to open a space in an already full class section are

frequent the first couple weeks of school.

Many instructors are flooded with requests for overrides into

courses that are already full.

For many students, the thought of letting one – or 10 – more

people into a class seems simple enough, but it leaves many

professors feeling stuck.

Psychology Professor Jerry Deffenbacher said he had to make a

blanket rule that he would not allow any overrides into his

abnormal psychology course.

“The class was full in June and all summer long I got e-mail

requests from students,” Deffenbacher said.

With nearly 80 students asking for an override into the

210-person class, Deffenbacher decided it would be too difficult to

decide whom to grant an override.

Deffenbacher said he will make exceptions in very unusual or

extenuating circumstances, but even then he tells students to watch

the online registration for openings because, invariably, a few

students will drop the course.

“It’s not really my policy,” Deffenbacher said. “As I understand

it, it’s a university-wide situation.”

Deffenbacher referred to the university’s fire codes, which

determine the each campus classroom’s capacity. For instructors,

this translates to not having more students than there are seats in

the room.

While this might not be an issue on most days, if a course is

overflowing, there will not be enough seats on exam days.

Public speaking is another course that does not allow overrides

into any of its 75 sections because adding even one person would

require an additional two or three class sessions to have enough

time to get through all the speeches.

“We encourage people who need the class to get in early and

under the mark,” said Dennis Phillips, chair of the Department of

Speech Communications.

Phillips said that if there were no other options for a student

he would occasionally approve an override.

“We have yet to hold up anybody from graduating,” he said.

However, Phillips said often there are other options that

students either do not know about or simply do not want to use. He

encourages students to meet with their adviser to determine if

another class will fulfill requirements.

“The students, most of the time, are able to be accommodated,”

Phillips said. “I like to think that we’re not unreasonable.”

Shelly Loomis, assistant registrar, said the Registrar’s Office

processes thousands of override approvals each semester. These

overrides include full classes, credit overrides, time conflicts

and issues with prerequisites, among others.

Of these, Loomis said the most common override request is to get

into a full course. The second is when a student has not taken the

prerequisite for a class.

Loomis said the registrar would process any override as long as

the academic department approves it.

“Overrides are fully in their control,” she said. “As long as

they override the student for the appropriate thing, then we’ll

process it.”

Deffenbacher, however, said students should also be more

flexible in their scheduling.

“It’s not just (students) asking for an override,” he said.

“It’s an override for a popular class at a popular time.”


Trying to get an override? Things to consider:

– Do you have extenuating circumstances? If so, you can probably

get into the class.

– Talk with your adviser and the department head. See if another

class will fulfill the same requirement.

– Can you take the class at another time or another


– Check the online registration daily. Many students drop

classes in the first two weeks of the semester.

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